How this Beauty Brand is Going Beyond Fair Trade | Business with Purpose Podcast EP 281: Olowo-n’djo Tchala, CEO of Alaffia
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My guest this week is Olowo-n’djo Tchala. Born in the village of Kaboli, Togo, West Africa near the border of Benin, Olowo-n’djo grew up sharing an 8’x10’ room with seven siblings and his mother.
Although they did not always have enough, his mother, Ina, instilled in him the importance of kindness and generosity by always sharing what they could. Unable to afford school fees, Olowo-n’djo dropped out of school in the sixth grade to help support his family.
After meeting his wife he founded Alaffia in 2003. In 2004, armed with his understanding of the value of indigenous West African resources and sustainable business ideologies, he launched Alaffia’s ﬁrst collective. Alaffia continues to redefine the natural products industry through its values of beauty, equality and empowerment.
Alaffia handcrafts award-winning clean, green beauty and grooming products and is a social enterprise on a mission to invest in a more equitable future.
4:25 – My personal testimonial
- I’m such a huge fan of Alaffia. My son Amos, who is almost 6, had horrible eczema as a child. We tried everything. Somebody recommended Alaffia to me, and I became a believer.
- It was safe and smelled amazing. It was a lifesaver.
6:09 – Olowo-n’djo 101
- He sees Alaffia as everybody’s brand, not just his. He feels honored to do something that he believes in.
10:43 – Meeting his wife
- Olowo-n’djo’s wife, Rose, studied chemistry and is from Washington state.
- He decided to follow her because, “You have to follow the one that touches your heart.”
14:38 – Meaning of Alaffia
- Alaffia means peace and health. His beauty brand represents a social movement, not just a business.
18:55 – How his business sprouted
- Olowo-n’djo’s mother instilled a sense of responsibility in him. He wanted to be a subway engineer at one point to help find clean water.
21:20 – Fair trade model
- Alaffia has gone above the idea of the “fair trade” model. He is setting a standard for other companies.
24:36 – Funding births
- Olowo-n’djo has funded over 6,500 births.
29:24 – Women’s issues
- I am so grateful to Olowo-n’djo for talking about important topics, like women’s’ maternal health.
- Women often have to advocate for themselves, so it’s nice to see a man advocating for us.
33:53 – Biggest challenge
- The biggest challenge he faces depends on the day. The challenges are continuous, and there are incredible difficulties.
37:09 – His products
- Alaffia makes a lot of bath products, but they also make creams for moisturizing the skin.
41:29 – Get to know you
- Who would play him in a movie? He would play himself.
- Who would play his mom in a movie? His aunt
I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for us. We have so much to offer the world.
I get to do something that I deeply and profoundly believe in, really deep in my heart and my soul.
About Olowo-n’djo Tchala:
Olowo-n’djo Tchala, founder and CEO of Alaffia, was born and raised in the village of Kaboli, Togo, Africa located in the Central region near the border of Benin. Growing up, he shared an 8’ x 10’ room with his mother and seven siblings. Olowo-n’djo’s mother taught him the importance of kindness and generosity and by the age of five, Olowo-n’djo was working on the family farm to help support his family. After meeting Prairie Rose Hyde, who was serving in the Peace Corps at the time, he came to the United States and worked his way through school, eventually graduating from the University of California, Davis with a degree in organizational theory. Shortly before graduation, Olowo-n’djo and Rose felt they had the responsibility to fight the injustices that existed in West Africa. They founded Alaffia, which handcrafts award-winning clean and fair trade beauty and grooming care. The organization advances gender equality and alleviates poverty through the fair trade of indigenous African resources such as unrefined shea butter, African black soap, coconut oil and neem extract.
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